Debt Ceiling Debate: Obama's Fences vs. the GOP's Bridges

Political trench warfare reached a stalemate in Washington, DC this past week as the White House and GOP lawmakers continued to square off in the debt ceiling debate. President Obama put his thumb on the launch button of his party’s thermonuclear equivalent weapon, suggesting seniors may not get Social Security checks because of Republican intransigence in the talks. But beyond the simplistic jab and parry of tax hikes versus spending cuts, there’s something much more significant at stake: two vastly different visions of America’s future.

Despite Obama’s sudden head fake attempt to appear above the fray on the issue, he is not. Barack Obama is as far left as politicians come. He’s a product of his upbringing and radical influences, a culture that despises America’s capitalism and exceptionalism. In his America, one in every seven Americans is on food stamps, one in two households pays no federal taxes, and the wealth creators are vilified for their success.

It should be no surprise that Obama’s vision for America is to create as many wards of the state as he can, trapping more citizens in the utter despair of big government dependency. It is this kind of lefty mentality that drives his position on the debt ceiling debate. Tax hikes are the only solution in the mindset of the average liberal/Democrat/progressive/socialist/Marxist (you pick; they all mean the same thing).

In contrast, the GOP envisions an America where less government and more individual freedoms stimulate personal responsibility and independence. On the debt ceiling debate, spending cuts are a necessary (and commonsense) first order of business to control runaway debt and keep government in check. Tax hikes will only stifle business growth and stymie job creation.

I’ve got personal history with both visions, so I view this debate from a perspective most Americans don’t have. I grew up in the 1960s and 70s in the housing projects of Newark, NJ, in literally one of the most despairing environments one can imagine. It was big government-created misery, a mini-version of the welfare-state vision Obama has for the entire country.

My father was a blue-collar guy, and unlike most of my friends’ parents, he worked. The average “family” in the projects consisted of a single parent of several children on welfare, and because of that dependence, there was little incentive to work. My dad was severely disabled, partially paralyzed, yet he worked hard every day to support his family.

When I was a young boy I once asked him why he didn’t simply go on disability or welfare. He smiled and told me that once you accept government assistance, it’s hard to stop. He explained that government builds fences around people to trap them, but it is up to a man to build his own bridge out of poverty. After that I started to see the fences that surrounded the people who lived in the projects, fences made of welfare checks, food stamps, and other forms of assistance. They were content to live on just enough to survive, with no hope or promise of improving their lives.

My dad eventually built his bridge and pulled us out of poverty to a better life in a new city and state, and his lessons have stayed with me ever since. I grew into my conservative beliefs by example, seeing both the big government solution and the benefits of personal responsibility. There’s no comparison. Newark’s welfare culture was the most hopeless, bleak, and miserable existence I’ve ever experienced. The last thing I want to see is its expansion to the rest of America. Some days, I feel like we’re almost there.

On the debt ceiling debate, the choice is clear. We can allow Obama and the asylum-running lunatic Senate Democrats to push us closer to a total welfare state where we’re all penned inside fences we can’t see beyond, or we can allow the GOP to end the madness and help us all build bridges to a greater future. It starts with taking a stand. The time is now.

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